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Automated Quality Assurance vs. Manual Inspection

Automated quality assurance can help you compete and grow your business by improving card quality and reducing manual inspection costs. However, in situations that depend on human creativity and problem solving, manual inspection also has its place. Choosing the right approach can pose some difficult questions, so we’ve answered a few of the most common ones to help you strike the right balance between automated and manual quality assurance.

My manual inspection process works great, so where’s the ROI in automating quality assurance?

Labor is one of your greatest assets and highest costs. If you issue cards and documents that contain sensitive data or complex personalization elements, you require additional labor to conduct manual inspections. Those costs add up quickly while expensive human errors persist. Mistakes in a large production run caused by a single operator error could cost you in excess of $25,000 in scrapped materials, lost production time, missed SLAs and crisis resolution time and support. An inline quality assurance system can detect problems during the production run and alert you immediately – so you can prevent a minor error from becoming a major crisis. Unlike your operators who split their time between various production tasks, automated quality assurance systems have a single responsibility. They don’t take breaks and can work 24/7 with incredible accuracy. This allows them to pay for themselves quickly and offer greater ROI over time. Reducing human error with automated quality assurance gives you an extra layer of financial confidence while allowing you to focus your human resources on areas of your operation where they can be better utilized.

Automated systems are programmed. They don’t have brains and can’t think on the spot like someone doing a manual inspection. How can automation make up for that?

One benefit of manual inspectors is their ability to think critically and creatively in the event of a peculiar situation or production error. However, with properly configured automated systems the chance of error is negligible, so the need for creative problem solving is greatly reduced.

Can an automated system help improve my overall card quality?

Manual inspections are typically based on sampling. Perhaps you check the first card in a batch, the last card, and a few cards in between. It’s a slow process that creates ample opportunity to overlook card errors. An automated quality assurance system can verify every single card in one run.  You simply program your quality criteria, and then let it verify up to 16 elements on the card including custom photos, secure elements and electronic data on smart chips or magnetic stripes. Real time tracking and auditing allow you to react quickly to anything out of the ordinary, so you save on re-inspection as well.

What about security?

If you produce cards with financial or identity data, security is top of mind for you. Human inspection inherently adds security risk to the production process. While we believe most inspectors are absolutely trustworthy, it only takes one person violating your security policy to jeopardize hard-earned customer relationships and put your business at financial and legal risk. Additionally, the superior accuracy of automated quality assurance systems can help prevent the types of errors that mistakenly deliver personal data into the wrong hands and erode trust in your organization. Manual inspections will always be important where human judgment and problem solving are required. But automated quality assurance helps reduce the instances of such problems while greatly improving workflow efficiency. It saves money on fines, penalties, reissuance and wasted materials. It keeps you apprised of inspection results in real time, so any errors can be quickly corrected, helping boost your bottom line. With less time spent on manual inspections, your valuable human resources can be redeployed to areas of production where their creativity can spark further innovation.

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